Equitation help needed!
A friend of mine at the barn is going through a tough time with her confidence. She feels like her equitation has totally gone out-of-whack and she has no idea what to do. Our trainer kind of gave up on everyone and honestly has no idea what to tell her. I've tried to help her out and give her a few suggestions, but I figured if I posted a video of her, maybe I could get a few tips from the masses to share with her!
Just a little background on her:
Her horse is a 19 year old saint. He's just an awesome horse. Shes had him for about 5 years now and shes done decently well on him. She used to do so well in the equitation, until god knows what happened to her confidence. She got a call-back in the youth equitation over fences at the AQHYA world championship show in 2010 and ended up 14th out of about 92 kids.
My advice to her (let me know if you agree with me or not) was to have a shorter reign, and a longer arm. Especially when she sits so it doesn't look like shes just perched on top of her horse. Also, I told her to bring her leg more forward so it doesn't slide back and to keep her entire lower leg around her horse's stomach. She is very floppy... I honestly don't know what to tell her about that.
What do y'all think? Please no harsh or rude comments. Thanks everyone! :-)
Do you have permission from your friend to post a video of her on the internet?
I like the way she rides. I see no reason for her to feel bad. I wouldn't say for her to have a longer arm, but that's just me. Goodness, I'd be thrilled to ride that well.
By any chance is she an over-thinker? I'll preface this by saying my own position wouldn't stand a chance in an EQ class, but my eyes see a stiff rider who is out of sync with the horse. A few times she jumps a little before the horse like she expected it to happen whether it did or didn't. It just looks like she's trying too hard to make it all happen. If you have anyone in your area who does it, get her a yoga on horseback lesson to loosen everything up. Then set her up on jumping grids and have her jump them with her eyes closed so she cannot anticipate and if forced to stay in sync with her horse. If she could just "let it all go" so to speak before she rides, I think she'd look 100% better.
Just wanted to say thank you :)
She can be an over thinker. I gave her some extra help today (or a so called "lesson"). I will post the video and let me know what you think. I told her she needs to keep thinking RELAX. Pick up those hands, and allow your horse to do HIS part. Don't try to do his part for him. By the end of the "lesson" she was actually looking great and was feeling confident!
So I see a lot of tension in her riding - her back is arched, her knees appear to be gripping (causing her to bounce on saddle), and she's "pumping" at the canter.
I'd have her take some "lunge line" lessons - sans stirrups - to get her confidence back.
1.) Start with working the walk (not really shown on video). Have her remove BOTH legs from stirrup leathers and take her legs OFF the saddle. Can she stay balanced with her legs not touching the saddle? If not have her totally relax her body and grip front of saddle to stay on (lunge line handler controls horse). Next allow her legs to hang down nice and long from the saddle totally relaxed. Don't worry about heels down. Many time when a rider forces their heels down it causes them to stiffen their legs and causes tension in their riding.
2.) Once walk is good add the trot. Start with sitting trot, no stirrups. Again idea is long legs NOT gripping but relaxed abd no bouncing on the saddle. Grab front of saddle as needed. Once she can sit and stay on without bouncing or gripping wioth her legs then have her do rising trot. Still without stirrups. Be sure to tell her to place her elbows ON her waist and as she rises with the trot to "open" her elbows, as she sits to "close" her elbows. That keeps a nice steady contact with the horses mouth, another problem of hers. Once she can so sitting and rising trot without fripping or moving her armws up/down as she rises she can get her stirrups back.
3.) Canter. She is "pumping" her body at the canter. Instead she needs to relax (there's a theme here :D ) and instead of "pumping/pushing" with her seat instead think of lifting her ribcage as the horses mane rises up into the air.
Overall tension is causing most of her issues. A good dressage instructor could help her as could a jumping instructor who knows basic dressage techniques. She should stop jumping altogether until she can ride again - because the jumping issues (leaning forward about 4 strides out, falling on horses forehand after jumping, etc.) are most likely tension resulting from a lack of confidence.
The small jumps she's jumping in the video should not cause her butt to leave the saddle - instead have her just bend forward from the waist and NOT ride out of the saddle for these - then move hands forward towards middle of the neck (NOT a crest release - that's for beginners). I believe she needs to re-start herself on the basics of riding to re-establish her confidence before jumping. Something has scared her and this has resulted in tension which has changed her from a competent rider into one with issues.
Good luck. :-)
Wow thanks so much! I'll definitely show her this message!
First off I completely agree with Valentina's suggestions, they're exactly what I did to stop doing exactly what she's doing.
Ok, so obviously I don't know her, but I think I can maybe pinpoint the root of her tension. From the video, it seems she is very stiff and never really (no offence meant!!) riding.
What I mean by that is, even though I know this 19 yr old must be a wonderful horse and I can see that, if she were put on a slightly less experienced horse, her riding techniques would completely fail her and cause her to lose more confidence. And please don't think I'm being mean, I've been through this exact situation and it wasn't enjoyable! What I can see from the video is that she is so focused on looking "pretty" she doesnt actually help out the horse in any way. Her reins are too long, she is taking for granted the fact that the horse is going to jump the fence (if he refused with her loose legs and her shoulders like that she would be off!). Even though I know she is low on confidence maybe you could suggest that she watches courses by jumper eq or hunter eq riders on Youtube? Some of the Maclays rounds are outstanding and really helped me realize what I needed to fix.
Most people think of equitation as being beautiful and proper and having wonderful position, which is what I think she is trying to force herself into right here. Even though it is all those things, it is also ELEGANCE. Elegance doesnt mean trying to shove your heels down to an awkward angle or stiffening up your back to achieve "perfect posture". Equitation is all about making you look like you could ride anything and still look absolutely beautiful, whilst actually riding the horse properly and effectively. I think she should learn to relax and follow the motions of the horse and not get caught up in what she looks like! The more stressed you are about your position, the more I can guarantee people will notice you fiddling!
Anyways give her my best wishes and good luck!
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